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World Patient Safety Day

Posted by Devon Partnership Trust in Mental health, News on 17th September, 2021

World Patient Safety Day"Patient safety is the avoidance of unintended or unexpected harm to people during the provision of healthcare."

World Patient Safety Day is marked each year on September 17. World Patient Safety Day recognises patient safety as a global health priority and calls for global solidarity and concerted action to improve patient safety.

Each year, a new theme is selected to shed light on a priority safety area where action is needed to reduce avoidable harm in health care, and achieve universal health coverage. This year, the theme is 'Safe maternal and newborn care'. This awareness day will therefore be dedicated to the need to prioritise and address safety in maternal and new born care. This is especially important in the context of the disruption of health services due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One in four to five mothers suffer from mental health difficulties during pregnancy or in the first year after childbirth (Howard 2018). The impact of mental health problems can be devastating for both mother and baby as well as their families. It can also have longstanding effects on children’s emotional, social and cognitive development.

Detecting perinatal mental health problems is vitally important because suicide remains the leading direct cause of maternal death during the first year following the end of pregnancy. It is also the third largest direct cause of maternal deaths in the 42 days following the end of pregnancy. The mortality rate due to suicide has increased from 2.3 to 2.9 per 100,000 maternities. It’s important to recognise that some causes of maternal death, like sepsis, have decreased following quality improvement measures. Suicide however, has remained static or slightly increased in recent years.

The costs of perinatal mental difficulties to society are estimated at £8.1 billion for each annual birth cohort, or almost £10,000 per birth. This led to the aim that by 2020/21, NHS England should:

  • Support at least 30,000 more women each year to access evidence-based specialist mental health care during the perinatal period.
  • Provide four additional Mother and Baby Units in the South West (Devon), South-east of England (Kent), North West (Lancashire) and East of England (Norfolk) where previously there was no service provision.
  • Ensure that women and their families in every area in England had access to a community perinatal service.

Devon Partnership Trust (DPT) have played an important part in helping improve perinatal services locally, regionally and nationally. Jasmine Lodge Mother and Baby Unit opened in 2018 allowing families access to the care they need closer to home.

Recently, the Maternal Mental Health Clinic opened, with DPT becoming a pilot site for this important service. It assesses and offers treatment to women experiencing a moderate/complex, severe mental health issue directly arising from their maternity experience. Our work continues to be referenced as an example of excellent care in national publications. The increased funding as part of the NHS Long Term Plan will allow the perinatal service to extend their care to more women with moderate mental health difficulties, offer assessments and support for partners, provide more psychological interventions and extend care until babies are two years old. The perinatal service is also involved in a variety of national research and local quality improvement projects to help further understanding and improve the care for women and their families.

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